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Traffic in Jeddah is nightmarish to say the least

Many people in Jeddah blame faltering road projects and hold government bodies

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With roads in Jeddah often congested with a torrent of cars, many of the city’s inhabitants are at the end of their tethers, Okaz newspaper reported.

Many people in Jeddah blame faltering road projects and hold government bodies in charge of monitoring the implementation of these projects responsible. Saleh Al-Turki believes most government officials are stuck in a rut and have little interest in fulfilling their duties with honesty and integrity. “They visit sites, write reports and prepare documents to issue payments. At best, these bodies hire consultant engineers that have no power to expedite the execution of projects and monitor ongoing work,” said Al-Turki.

“The only solution is for them to set up a project management office like the ones Aramco, the National Guard and the Saudi Defense Ministry have. Having an office like this is the reason why these three government agencies are successful in implementing projects without delays,” Al-Turki said.

Another cause of projects not finishing is the failure of some government bodies to ensure contractors possess sufficient skill, experience, logistical support, planning and cash to undertake projects. It would seem government bodies are not paying attention to these issues when handing out projects.

“Contract agreements, as adopted by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC), should be signed to eliminate any negativities when contractors are selected and contracts are handed out,” said Al-Turki.

Sarah Boghdadi, another Jeddah resident, agrees. She said there is a need for a robust system to be adopted when contracts are handed out. “The mechanisms of monitoring projects should be thoroughly improved and stricter deadlines should be imposed on contractors, with stricter penalties for delays,” she said.

Though Jeddah is full of bridges and underpasses designed to ease traffic, they are always congested. A problem that is made worse by the fact that most drivers do not follow traffic laws. “The work hours of government offices and agencies should be modified and changed from the work hours of businesses in the private sector. More traffic officers should be on our roads to direct traffic and issue tickets to violators,” said Boghdadi.
Dr. Abla Bokhari said the new bridges and underpasses on roads in Jeddah have not been effective in terms of ending traffic jams. “Most of the bridges aren’t long enough like the ones you find in the US and other countries in South East Asia,” she said.

Dr. Abdullah Dahlan called on the authorities to begin work on the electric tram project as suggested by Governor of Makkah Prince Khalid Al-Faisal. On completion, the tram system will connect various parts of Jeddah and reduce traffic. “The South Corniche should be developed and a suspension bridge should be constructed to connect the Makkah-Jeddah Expressway to the Corniche,” he said.

Dr. Abdul Mohsin Hilal said speed cameras (Saher) are unable to resolve the problem of traffic in Jeddah. “More officers should be deployed where there is congestion to direct traffic. Some of the bridges and underpasses that we have built have failed to end congestion on our roads, which is proof that they were set up in the wrong places and not properly designed,” he said.

“A study needs to be conducted on traffic congestion in Jeddah to resolve the problem once and for all,” he added.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 10, 2015.